The “Carnevale di Viareggio”
Is a fantastic, colorful month-long carnival that is held in the Tuscan city of Viareggio every year in the four weeks that precede Lent. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who flock to the region to watch the vibrant floats and masquerade processions and to take in the festive atmosphere in the town.
The Carnival in Viareggio is a family event that features five days of fun processions that are loved by kids and adults alike. Four of these are held on the four Sundays of the month-long event, while the fifth takes place on Fat Tuesday.
During the carnival season, Viareggio comes alive with celebration and entertainment. From the colorful costumes to the loud and eclectic music, the town’s festive spirit is infectious and awe inspiring, and it comes as no surprise that visitors return again and again to be part of the celebrations. Of course, the streets of Viareggio can get pretty crowded during the season; however, all this adds to the carnival atmosphere and makes it an event to remember.
No effort is spared in the creation of the floats and costumes that feature in the festival. The masquerade-clad dancers and colorful floats get better and better each year amid strong competition to stand out in the procession and win the much-coveted competition for best in carnival.
This isn’t a parade to watch; it’s a parade to join in
What makes the Carnival in Viareggio stand out from some of the other carnivals that take place in Italy, and elsewhere in the world, is that visitors are not penned behind barriers. Instead, the floats and spectators partake in one big celebration in which everyone mixes, mingles, and enjoys the party atmosphere. Expect dancing, opportunities to interact with the performers, and major confetti fights. Make the most of the performance by donning a custom or wig and stocking up on confetti. You can buy everything you need in the parade area, with a wide range of wigs, costumes, and hats on sale.
The official mask and mascot of the Carnival in Viareggio is Burlamacco, who appears dressed in a bright red and white checked robe with a long cape and cocked hat. His appearance is inspired by other prominent characters of the Italian “commedia dell’arte” such as Balanzone, Harlequin, Pierrot, and Rugantino. Burlamacco appears in each of the five parades flanked by a host of females that are known as the “Ondina,” which is derived from the Italian name for wave, named as such to highlight Viareggio’s links with the sea and the summer.
The floats that appear in the procession are the real stars of the event. Brightly decorated in papier-mâché adornments, the floats follow a route along Viareggio’s promenade between the city’s shops and the beach. These mesmerizing vehicles are typically incredibly innovative translations of contemporary Italian and international politics and other events and typically appear in a satirical form.
Every float is accompanied by its own bold, brash soundtrack. Dancers party to the music and invite the crowd to get involved as they pass by, promoting an atmosphere of celebration and congeniality.
For some, the event is actually quite a serious undertaking, especially for those who compete against each other in the formal competitions. There are two hotly contested prizes, one for the group float and a second for the single floats. The winners of each of the categories are announced on the last day of the carnival.
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